7/31/07

Gov't union strike forces kids onto dangerous streets

Some Downtown Eastside (DTES) families are pleading with union leaders to let a community centre in the heart of the troubled neighbourhood stay open through Vancouver's civic strike. Steve Bouchard, president of the Ray-Cam Community Centre on East Hastings Street, says families depend on the DTES institution. "Where else would they go? The libraries are closed. Community centres are closed. Day camps are closed. There are no other options," Bouchard told 24 hours.

"It's forced local children onto the streets of the Downtown Eastside and potentially into the arms of pedophiles and drug dealers and pimps. We've received numerous phone calls at Ray-Cam. Some parents are in tears because they just don't know what to do." Bouchard said some kids have continued to come to Ray-Cam even during the strike, prompting some staff to care for them, even while they walk the picket lines. Bouchard said Ray-Cam has petitioned the Labour Relations Board twice to force essential service baselines for the centre, but it has received no support from union leaders. "It's unacceptable," Bouchard said of the union stance.

Calls to CUPE 15 president Paul Faoro, head of the union for indoor municipal workers in Vancouver, were unanswered by press time yesterday.

(vancouver.24hrs.ca)

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